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SPIRIT OF CAPITALISM

State Capitalism, Capitalism, Books on Capitalism, Karaoke Capitalism

According to Max Weber the spirit of capitalism is rationalization - being methodical and calculating in the pursuit of profit. Weber argues that the spirit of capitalism or drive to organize work to most efficiently achieve the goals of profit or business success had its origins in Protestantism.

In Search of `the Spirit of Capitalism': Weber's Misinterpretation of Franklin, Tony Dickson, Hugh V. McLachlan - Sociology, Vol. 23, No. 1, (1989) - Weber's Protestant Ethic essays are remarkably short of hard evidence for the existence of `The Spirit of Capitalism'. Instead, Weber relies on extracts from the writings of Benjamin Franklin to illustrate this attitude. Weber seems to regard Franklin's writings as an archetypical example of `The Spirit of Capitalism'.

A detailed examination of Franklin's life and works reveals a very different story. Far from illustrating `The Spirit of Capitalism', as Weber conceives it, Franklin's life shows that his attachment to capitalist values of profit accumulation was wholly pragmatic rather than being linked to, or deriving from his religious beliefs. If confirmation of the existence of `The Spirit of Capitalism' is to be sought, it has to be elsewhere than by reference to Benjamin Franklin.

Social Class and the Spirit of Capitalism - Matthias Doepke, UCLA and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Fabrizio Zilibotti, Institute for International Economic Studies.

THE CORPORATE ETHIC, THE ETHIC OF SAMOSTOYATELNOST AND THE SPIRIT OF CAPITALISM: REFLECTIONS ON MARKET-BUILDING IN POST-SOVIET RUSSIA - Oleg Kharkhordin - International Sociology, Vol. 9, No. 4, 405-429 (1994)
This article attempts to elaborate a culturalist approach to the problems of the current economic reform in Russia, which is based on the works of Karl Polanyi and Max Weber. It argues that the currently predominant corporate ethic of Russian industrialists may not necessarily be viewed as an obstacle to national market-building. On the contrary, it may prove useful in the initial phases of constructing the Russian national market, because it seems to foster the creation of financial and industrial concerns, united in a national network of exchanges. However, the article also argues that a profound cultural change is a prerequisite for the later stages of successful market-building in Russia. The potential for and mechanisms of the transition from the corporate ethic of the currently dominant economic actors to the new individualistic ethic of samostoyatelnost are discussed. The Weber-inspired analysis points to the curious cultural change which has already occurred in some groups of formerly zealous collectivist ascetics.

How Does the Spirit of Capitalism Affect Stock Market Prices? 
William T. Smith, University of Memphis 
Rev Fin 2001; 14:1215-1232 © 2001 the Society for Financial Studies 
Abstract: Bakshi and Chen (1996b) suggest that the spirit of capitalism affects stock prices by increasing society's aversion to risk. In this article, I show that the way in which the spirit of capitalism impinges upon asset prices depends on the interaction of impatience, willingness to substitute over time, and ordinal preferences between consumption and status, in addition to risk aversion. I develop a general model that charts the channels through which the spirit of capitalism affects asset prices. An increase in the capitalist spirit may increase or decrease risk aversion, and may actually decrease the prices of risky assets.

The Ethic of Self-Reliance and the Spirit of Capitalism in Russia - Robert J. Brym, University of Toronto - International Sociology, Vol. 11, No. 4, 409-426 (1996)
Oleg Kharkhordin (1994) argues that most Russian industrialists adhere to a corporate ethic of mutual aid that facilitates the creation of financial and industrial conglomerates united in a national market. He also emphasizes that sustained capitalist development requires the rise of a new individualistic ethic of samostoyatel'nost', or self-reliance, which he finds growing among Russian businesspeople. Contrary to Kharkhordin's assertions, I demonstrate the persistence of collectivist sentiment among state enterprise directors on the basis of a 1994 Moscow-region survey. I then use survey data to show that in the adult Russian population as a whole, self-reliance was a much less popular norm in 1995 than it was in 1989. Finally, I analyse a 1995 survey of Russian adults in order to demonstrate that entrepreneurial Russians are not especially inclined to espouse the samostoyatel'nost' ethic. I conclude that certain social-structural continuities between the Soviet and post-Soviet periods partly account for the persistent weakness of the samostoyatel'nost' ethic among most Russians, including entrepreneurs. An ethic of self-reliance may be necessary for sustained capitalist growth in Russia, as Kharkhordin suggests, but so is a transformation of power relations more massive than has taken place to date.

'The Will to Act': An Analysis of Max Weber's Conceptualisation of Social Action and Political Ethics in the Light of Goethe's Fiction - Isher-Paul Sahni, Department of Sociology McGill University - Sociology, Vol. 35, No. 2, 421-439 (2001)
Max Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Politics as a Vocation are interpreted in light of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Wilhelm Meister and Faust. The significance of Goethe's faith in human striving, the renunciation of wholly contemplative aspirations, and the subsequent undertaking of a specialised vocation are discussed. Following this, the way in which these themes influenced substantive dimensions of Weber's sociology is developed. This explication contends that Goethe's vision of active asceticism, the motivational power of conviction, and a transcendent deed which contributes to the vitality of future generations, influenced Weber's understanding of meaningful and responsible social and political action.

Patience Capital, Occupational Choice, and the Spirit of Capitalism 
MATTHIAS DOEPKE, University of California, Los Angeles - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
FABRIZIO ZILIBOTTI, Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research) 
Abstract: We model the decision problem of a parent who chooses an occupation and teaches patience to her children. The two choices are linked by a strategic complementarity: patient individuals choose occupations with a steep income profile; a steep income profile, in turn, leads to a strong incentive to invest in patience. In equilibrium, society becomes stratified along occupational lines. The most patient people are those in occupations requiring the most education and experience. The theory can account for the socio-economic transformation that characterized the British Industrial Revolution, when a new class of entrepreneurs rising from the middle classes and imbued with an ethics emphasizing patience and savings proved most capable of profiting from new economic opportunities, and eventually surpassed the pre-industrial elite.

The Economic Sociology of Capitalism: Weber and Schumpeter 
Richard Swedberg, Cornell University, USA 
Journal of Classical Sociology, Vol. 2, No. 3, 227-255 (2002) © 2002 SAGE Publications
This article points to a distinct puzzle in the analyses of capitalism that can be found in the works of Weber and Schumpeter, and gives a new introduction to their analysis of capitalism. Both Weber and Schumpeter wrote voluminously on capitalism, as testified to by such giant works as Economy and Society (Weber, 1978c [1922]) and Business Cycles (Schumpeter, 1939). One can also discern a distinct development in their thought over time: from emphasizing the role of various voluntaristic elements (such as the spirit of capitalism and the spirit of entrepreneurship) to stressing the role of institutions. The puzzle that one can find in their writings is as follows. Weber and Schumpeter both argue that a vigorous and healthy capitalism requires certain economic and non-economic institutions, in addition to something else. An absence of this 'something else' may lead to capitalist petrification or collapse, according to both authors. The answers of Weber and Schumpeter to the above puzzle, it is shown in the article, is somewhat different in their early and in their later works.

The Spirit of Modernity - Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and Japanese Social Sciences 
Wolfgang Schwentker, Osaka University, Japan 
Journal of Classical Sociology, Vol. 5, No. 1, 73-92 (2005) © 2005 SAGE Publications
In this article, I reconstruct the reception of Max Weber’s essays on The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in 20th-century Japanese social sciences. I will show that even during Weber’s lifetime, Japanese economists responded to the so-called ‘Weber thesis’ and were aware of the ongoing debate on the origins of capitalism in European social sciences. Since the first Japanese translation of Weber’s essays appeared in 1938, interpretations depended very much on the political and social change of the country in the forthcoming decades. I attempt to prove that after 1945 the understanding of Weber in Japanese social sciences became interdisciplinary. Basically the response of Japanese social scientists was twofold: on the one hand, they looked for functional equivalents to the Protestant ethic in Japan, and, on the other hand (and even more importantly), they understood Weber’s text as a blueprint for a successful modernization of their country, more or less through economic means.

Veblen and Weber, on the Spirit of Capitalism - P. A. SARAM 
Journal of Historical Sociology, Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 234 - June 1992
Abstract Sociology has benefited from inquiries into the theoretical potential in the writings associated with individual 'authors', as well as from the examination of research 'topics' through the works of two or more writers. Of these complementary approaches, the latter provides the basis for this essay. The focus here is on the 'spirit' of modern capitalism from the standpoint of the formulations by Veblen and Weber. These writers provide alternative hypotheses on the decisive variable instrumental to the spirit of capitalism, namely, technology and religion respectively. In most other respects there is remarkable similarity in the two writings. The present analysis has enabled the comprehension of the spirit of capitalism in terms of four sequential phases. These are: early capitalism (capitalism as spirit); early-modern capitalism (capitalism as spirit and economic organization); late-modern capitalism (spiritless capitalism); and post-modernity (society in need of a spirit).

The Open Source Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism - Asay, Matt
Abstract: Open source software, and specifically the GNU General Public License ( GPL ) that governs significant portions of it, has been called "un-American," "communistic," and otherwise anti-innovation. The inverse is actually true, with open source providing a free (meaning, open) platform upon which to build closed or open-source extensions. The closed source model provides no such benefit, locking government users into one corporation's roadmap. In this presentation, I will tackle the philosophical underpinnings of the closed and open source models of software development, arguing that open source comes closest to the free market ideal than closed source does. I will relate these philosophical foundations to government needs for security, control, and cost, and will hold that while governments should not necessarily mandate one over the other, they should seriously consider expanding their use of open source technologies.

ECONOMIC NATIONALISM AND THE 'SPIRIT OF CAPITALISM': CIVIC COLLECTIVISM AND NATIONAL WEALTH IN THE THOUGHT OF JOHN FORTESCUE - Nederman, Cary
Source: History of Political Thought, Volume 26, Number 2, 2005, pp. 266-283(18)
Abstract: In her 2002 book The Spirit of Capitalism, Liah Greenfeld argues that the emergence of nationalistic economic doctrines in Europe, and especially in Britain, after about 1600 constitutes the salient explanation for the capitalist 'take-off' in the modern West. This paper re-examines a central feature of Greenfeld's analytical apparatus, namely her strict distinction between 'collectivist' and 'individualistic' approaches to nationalism that she believes holds so much of the key to persistent differences in levels of political and economic development among nations even today. According to Greenfeld, only the individualistic version of nationalism is capable of promoting the convergence of personal and public economic interest and the competitive spirit of economic internationalism. The paper investigates a nationalistic theory, spun out of a series of tracts written in the second half of the fifteenth century by the English lawyer John Fortescue, that is clearly rooted in a medieval, collectivistic outlook but which promotes economic values (economic achievement, competitiveness and prosperity) that comprise Greenfeld's 'spirit of capitalism'. I argue that Fortescue offers a powerful counterexample to Greenfeld's central explanatory framework.

Anti-politics and the spirit of capitalism: Dissidents, monetarists, and the Czech transition to capitalism - Eyal G - Source: Theory and Society, Volume 29, Number 1, February 2000

Capitalism in Context: Sources, Trajectories and Alternatives - Johann P. Arnason 
Thesis Eleven, Vol. 66, No. 1, 99-125 (2001)
The recognition of capitalism as a core component of modernity has often led to conflation of the two categories; this happens to critics as well as defenders of capitalism, and it reflects their shared but only partly acknowledged premises. A tendency to interpret capitalism as a self-contained system has strongly affected the debate on its historical significance; this reductionistic approach could be adapted to different ideological stances as well as to changing views of capitalism's long-term trajectory. The notion of a `spirit of capitalism', in the sense of cultural sources essential to the constitution (and arguably also to the continuity) of the capitalist order, has been one of the most important correctives to economic determinism and reductionism, but it has proved difficult to link this dimension to other aspects of the problematic. The article surveys the contributions of Weber, Sombart, Castoriadis and - most recently - Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello to this debate. The last section then discusses the work of Fernand Braudel and suggests that it could serve to reformulate the problematic of capitalism in more multidimensional terms.

Illusion Only is Sacred - From the Culture Industry to the Aesthetic Economy 
David Roberts - Thesis Eleven, Vol. 73, No. 1, 83-95 (2003) © 2003 Thesis Eleven Pty, Ltd., SAGE Publications
Integral to the modern paradigm of cultural critique is an entropic vision of the `completion' of modernity reaching from Heidegger and Adorno to Debord and Baudrillard. Are contemporary cultural developments to be grasped in terms of this `completion' or do we need a more open-ended account of capitalism and culture? The article examines two key aspects of contemporary culture, both tied to processes of aestheticization and commodification since the 18th century: the progression from the culture industry (Adorno) to the aesthetic economy (Böhme), premised on the creation of aesthetic value in addition to use and exchange value; the progression from the `age of the world picture' (Heidegger) to culturalism, in which the culturalization of nature and history responds to the reduction of nature and history to standing reserves.

The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by Michael Novak (Free Press) - book review -
National Review, April 12, 1993 by Shirley Robin Letwin
We are all capitalists now, or at least hardly anyone dares to commend socialism or Communism as utopias. Yet Michael Novak is right in thinking that the victory of capitalism is far from assured and that more needs to be explained. Although his message is especially telling for Catholics of Latin America and Eastern Europe, even born-and-bred non-Catholic advocates of capitalism in the West can learn much from him.
By "capitalism," Novak means not merely or mainly an economic order based on private property and competition among buyers and sellers of goods and services, but a distinctive spirit, culture, and morality associated with such economic arrangements. The chief villains in his story are the German sociologist Max Weber, who traced the origins of capitalism to "the Protestant ethic," and the Italian Christian Democrat Amintore Fanfani, whose book Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism (1935) provides social democrats with their bible. Novak charges them with propagating a view of capitalism that puts it at odds with Christianity and Judaism and omits or distorts its chief virtues.

Confucian Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism in Korea: Focused on Filial Piety - Lew Seokchoon
Korean Journal of Sociology, Vol.39, No. 6 (2005), in Korean.

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.